Rochdale Council are to relinquish its shares in the company that owns and manages Spotland Stadium so that the long-term future of the sporting facility can be secured.
The council became one of three shareholders in the company when it was set up in 1991 to safeguard the stadium, which is used by Rochdale’s professional football and rugby league clubs.
The shares will transfer to Rochdale AFC and the council will recover the original outlay of £100,000.
Loans of £529,000 the stadium company has with the council will be consolidated and repaid over nine years at commercial rates, which will help keep professional sport in the borough and reduce exposure to future risk for the council.
Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Football Club have signed a new long-term lease as part of the agreement.
Councillor Richard Farnell, the leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The council has for the past 25 years supported Spotland stadium because we understand its importance to many people in the borough. Having carefully examined the details of Rochdale AFC’s proposal we are assured that it represents a good deal for Rochdale’s biggest sporting organisations and for taxpayers.”
“Rochdale Hornets RLFC are delighted with the news that Rochdale AFC has assumed control of Spotland Stadium”, says club Chairman Mark Wynn.
“First and foremost, we pay tribute to the vision of the Dale board in securing the future of the town’s two professional teams in the stadium.” finished Wynn.
Paul Ormerod, Rochdale Hornets President, commented: “I met the Dale’s Chairman, Chris Dunphy, about 18 months ago, and assured him that Hornets did not want to stand in the way of the Dale’s ambition. I am very pleased with the outcome.
"The club also extends sincere thanks to everyone involved in the long drawn out process of Rochdale AFC buying 100 per cent of the shares in the Stadium Company.
"The Rugby Football League Chief Executive, Nigel Wood, has been very supportive of Hornets and had been instrumental in securing a deal that will safeguard the club's future at Spotland Stadium.
"The Council Leader, Richard Farnell and the chair of finance, Allen Brett, have both worked tirelessly to broker a deal which is in the best interests of professional sport in the Borough.
"We are looking forward to continuing our good relationship with the soccer club moving forward and enjoying the next phase of our future at Spotland Stadium.
"The purchase of the shares from the Rugby League Facilities Trust will enable the continued investment in facilities by the trust across a wide range of projects in both the professional and community game."
Dale Chairman Chris Dunphy commented: “I, on behalf of the Board of Directors, would like to thank fans for their support and understanding during this long process.
“It has been our desire for the last ten years to secure a deal to regain ownership of Spotland Stadium and we are delighted to reach a successful conclusion, having purchased the shares from Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and the Rugby League Facilities Trust we now own 100% of the shares in the Stadium Company.
“The Board has worked tirelessly during that time to bring our vision to fruition and today is a proud day in the club’s history.
“Spotland Stadium remains the largest sporting venue within the Rochdale Borough and its acquisition is a huge stride forward for the football club. It presents a significant opportunity to expand the vital income streams for the club moving forwards.
“It has always been our intention to protect the best interests of professional sport in the Borough and we believe this deal secures the future of both Rochdale AFC and Rochdale Hornets.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Board members of old and new for their dedication and unwavering support throughout this process.
“Special mention must go to Colin Garlick, who has managed the business through challenging times over the last ten years, and to Bill Goodwin, whose expertise, drive and determination has led to the completion of this agreement.”